Seven years ago Laurel native Jennifer Cooper Steele’s life came to a sudden halt when her husband, Kevin, died from an aortic aneurysm at the age of 36. With two young children to take care of, Steele had no choice but to continue her life, one step at a time.
Steele released her book, “One Step at a Time” on Amazon about a month ago. She wrote the book in an effort to help herself heal while also helping others who find themselves in a similar situation.
“I always felt like it would help me heal in some way,” said Steele. “I wanted to share my story.”
Steele has a friend who published a memoir about dealing with the loss of her husband, who committed suicide. She saw her friend go through the process of publishing her memoir and decided to do the same. A self described introvert, Steele said writing about what she went through was the best way for her to tell her story.
“It’s kind of a way to get it out without talking about it,” she said. “I just wanted to help myself heal and help someone else. Even if I could help one person not feel the way I felt (it would be worth it).”
Steele saw the book as a way to accomplish a number of things. In addition to helping herself and others heal, she saw it as a chance to spread awareness about aortic aneurisms. She also wanted to help honor her late husband, who passed away suddenly on July 10, 2012.
“It’s been seven years, I’m further along,” said Steele. “It’s not something that ever goes away. You never know when it’s going to hit you. As time passes you just learn to live without them in your own way.”
The book has been on Amazon for over three weeks. Steele says it has received over 14 reviews and is doing well so far. She has received feedback from friends and family as well as people she didn’t know.
“They appreciate me sharing my story. They were able to relate in some way,” Steele said. “They thanked me for being vulnerable.”
Steele was born and raised in Laurel and still has family in the area. After graduating from Laurel High she went on to attend the University of Delaware. She stayed in the state and now lives in Smyrna.
Jennifer got remarried in September 2017 to Howard Steele and is a certified yoga instructor. She is also hoping to write more books in the future.
Steele hopes readers of her book who experience a tragic loss like she did will be able to take some solace from her story.
“If you’re in a dark place or you feel that there is no hope that day, just keep moving forward. There’s still life on the other side of loss, even when it doesn’t feel like it,” said Steele. “There was a time in my life when I was taking one step at a time. There’s still life ahead for us, don’t give up.”
Steele is the daughter of the late Barry Cooper and Fay Cooper, who still lives in Laurel.